Vice Adm. William McRaven said demand for the elite forces around the world continues to grow, so there often isn't enough time to train between deployments. And he said the helicopters and other equipment they need are not available to units in the United States who are preparing to deploy.
Special operations forces "cannot indefinitely sustain current levels of overseas presence," said McRaven, who has been nominated to replace Adm. Eric Olson as commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. "The resulting pressure on the force and our families is too great, and the pressure is creating a dramatic effect on our readiness."
He said the short breaks between deployments limit training in key language skills and the regional and cultural expertise that enable the commandos to work well in other countries. And he noted that most of the helicopters needed for training are either at the warfront or in maintenance, making it difficult for aircrews to hone their skills.
The lack of helicopters, aircraft and ships at bases in the U.S., he said, limits training on refueling, live bomb drops or dock landings.
McRaven's comments came in answer to questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing Tuesday and in a written questionnaire obtained by The Associated Press. And they mirror, in part, observations made by Olson earlier this year, when he warned that the elite forces were "beginning to show some fraying around the edges."